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Has the Internet Really Killed the Postcard?

Has the Internet Really Killed the Postcard?

Recall the last time that you saw a postcard. Likely, you were at a convenience store or gift shop. Certainly, it wasn’t in your mailbox because people just don’t send postcards anymore.

Between 2010 and 2014, the US Post Service noted a 58% drop in stamped postcard traffic. The card manufacturers feel this pain even more, with many suffering from revenues half what they were a decade ago. But stores continue to stock them, meaning there’s still some demand.

The Telegraph investigated this trend and found that the majority of people still send at least one postcard a year. Only a small minority of people prefer to update their social media, according to the survey. Perhaps the decline in postcard sales can be attributed to more than just displacement.


Why Some People Prefer Social Media

Social media trumps postcards in three ways:

  1. Both stamps and postcards cost more than they used to whereas social media are free;
  2. You can find Wi-Fi anywhere, making social media more convenient;
  3. Email and social media can be backed up and shared.

Ironically, one blogger likens the back of a postcard to a tweet: “They’re exposed to the public, and message length is limited.” Yet the point of the postcard is not necessarily what words you scribble on the back. It is this misconception that leads people into subscribing to the three arguments stated above.

According to Pope, the curator of the 1995 postcard exhibition Are We There Yet, “You choose [a postcard] because of the image on the front…and the connection that has between you and the place, or you and the person you’re sending it to.” The conscious effort to pick the right one makes the experience more memorable and certainly more personable for the receiver. There’s also something to be said for tangibility.